We’ve got plenty of issues here at Wild Things, but we’re pretty sure they’re the kind you’ll be interested in. Here’s a selection of YA titles that deal with all kinds of social issues or challenging experiences, from suicide and grief to bullying and sexual abuse.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie ($19.99)
Arnold Spirit Jr. is a 14-year-old aspiring cartoonist, and he’s also the only Native American student at his all-white high school in a small town in Washington state. This insightful and funny book tackles all kinds of hard-hitting issues, including alcohol, bullying, sex and racism.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous ($12.99)
Originally published as nonfiction in 1971, this famous and controversial book takes the form of a diary written by a troubled teen who becomes addicted to drugs. It might be over 40 years old now, but this tale of a confused and lonely girl losing control of her life still packs a punch.
Zac & Mia by AJ Betts ($19.99)
Seventeen-year-old Zac is in hospital enduring another grueling treatment session for his leukemia when he meets Mia, an angry and troubled cancer patient in the room next door. The two become friends and help each other navigate the difficulties of life with a terminal illness.
Paperweight by Meg Haston ($16.95)
Steve’s eating disorder has landed her in a treatment centre on the outskirts of the New Mexico desert, where her mealtimes are closely monitored and she can’t even visit the bathroom without supervision. But slowly, Stevie learns to confront her trauma and accept her grief.
The Pause by John Larkin ($19.99)
From the outside, Declan’s life looks perfect: a loving family, great friends and a beautiful girlfriend. But Declan’s got a secret – and as troubling events from past continue to eat away at him, he decides that the only solution is to end it all. Can he go through with it?
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson ($17.95)
Seventeen-year-old Lennie is a bookworm and band geek who happily lets her fiesty sister Bailey take centre stage. When Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie’s not only forced to deal with her shock and grief, but caught between two boys – and one of them was Bailey’s boyfriend.
Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford ($29.99)
This riveting memoir of bullying and boarding school reads just like a novel. When Rebecca Starford spent her 14th year living and studying on a remote campus in the Australian bush, she finds herself first joining ranks with the school bullies, and then becoming the object of their cruelty and scorn.
The Minnow by Diana Sweeney ($19.99)
A year ago, fifteen-year-old Tom lost her parents and sister in a devastating flood that swept through her hometown; now, she’s pregnant to a much older man, and finds herself talking to fish in an attempt to overcome her feelings of loss. A moving and whimsical coming-of-age story of grief and hope.